Ex-Google China chief to fund Chinese tech start-ups

HONG KONG, Sept 6 Sun Sep 6, 2009 1:08am EDT

HONG KONG, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Kai-fu Lee, Google Inc's GOOG.N former China chief who quit the search giant this week, said on Sunday he will launch his own business next week to fund Chinese technology start-ups.

Lee, described by Chinese media as the face of Google in China, said on his Twitter page (twitter.com/kaifulee) that he will launch a venture business platform, via which young Chinese can get "angel funding" to grow their enterprises.

An Angel fund is a popular kind of venture capital usually offered to a start-up in exchange for convertible debt or an equity stake. Many technology giants such as Google and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) were initially supported by various angel funds.

Lee's Twitter account is verified by Twitter.com, the mini-blogging service provider.

On his Twitter page, Lee, who joined Google from Microsoft (MSFT.O) in 2005, also noted he will hold a press conference on Monday to formally announce the launch of his own business.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported on Saturday, citing an unnamed person familiar with Lee's plan, that Lee was expected to establish an investment firm with about 800 million yuan ($117.1 million) in funds to help technology start-ups grow in mainland China.

Lee's departure comes at a time when Google is inching forward in its battle with Baidu in the world's largest Internet market by users, while fighting Beijing regulators who want Google to censor its searches. [ID:nSHA313987]

"I firmly agreed with the head offices of Google that we needed great patience to make the best products (in China) from the very beginning," the influential industry media China Computer World (CCW) reported on its Chinese-language website, citing a letter from Taiwan-born Lee. (www.ccw.com.cn)

"(We) should not attempt to hasten the pace or have a speculative attitude on the hope that we can make a quick success by offering products that can immediately earn money," CCW reported, quoting Lee's letter in response to his resignation from Google.

Several industry watchers, including CNReviews, reported at the weekend that Lee next week will launch a firm called Innovation Works (www.innovation-works.com) to fund and help young Chinese start-ups in particular in three sectors -- Internet, Mobile and Information Technology.

Lee, who have written several books about education and career path, thereby earning his reputation as "a mentor for all Chinese students", will also publish a new book called "Making A World of Difference: The Kai-Fu Lee Story" soon in China, according to Lee's notes on his Twitter page. ($1=6.829 Yuan) (Additional reporting by Simon Rabinovitch in Beijing; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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